As Jeff was giving me a tour of the city, his wife Nancy and my wife Elizabeth were in the backseat getting to know each other. We were visiting one of the couples I’m coaching through the process of starting up a church.
Later Nancy asked, “What are the most common mistakes church planters make?” I laughed, “Nancy, there are so many!” She laughed (maybe just out of politeness) but she was serious. It’s a really good question.
So, in an effort to keep church start-up people from making the same FAILs let me highlight two of the biggest I see in the life of the church planting pastor and his family.
1. Working alone without an experienced gospel coach. Yeah, you saw that one coming didn’t you? It’s what I do! But it does not negate the point! It’s exactly why I coach!
Gospel coaching is the single most important ingredient to the vitality of a church planter and his family. And the church start up.
If the enemy who hates the church can take out the planter or his marriage, he will usually have taken out the church too.
Do not plant alone. Get a gospel-focused church planting coach who is certified. Take advantage of the available wisdom and resources you can tap into through a coach.
2. Not resting. Start-up people want to do a really great thing! Start a church so more people will follow Jesus! But a driven person with an amazing opportunity + a large dose of your own reputation at stake = long hours and little to no rest.
You need rest. And I mean literal rest. As in the weekly Sabbath. As in day-long seasons of quiet prayer. As in long annual vacations where you really unwind.
Even if a start-up family lacks the resources to take two weeks of vacation at the beach, nobody is exempted from the fourth commandment or from prayer. Find ways to shut down and rest.
Start-up church leaders also should rest in what Jesus has done for them rather than puny human effort and ability. Spiritual rest and physical rest are related.
Confession: God literally had to close down our first church plant before I would admit how I was worshipping the idol of ministry success. You have got to rest. For more confessions of an old church planter, see my colleague’s blog on CMMnet.org.
These two fails can leave the biggest and widest holes and have the deepest implications in the life and family of church planters. If you are a start-up pastor type and need someone to talk to about this, let me know.
Next time I’ll focus on fails in the work of the start up church.